Uncategorized Preparing and paying for college

Preparing and paying for college

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A college degree or advanced training can translate into a big payoff, not only individually but for Indiana’s economic success. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students graduating with an associate’s degree had median weekly earnings that were more than 15 percent higher than students with only a high school degree in 2011.

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Median weekly earnings for graduates with bachelor’s degrees were 64 percent higher than those earned by workers with only a high school degree in 2011. That’s a difference that adds up to more than $21,000 annually.

Pursuing higher education is an investment and can come at a significant financial cost. In 2011, Indiana students graduated owing on average $27,500 in student loans according to the Project on Student Debt.

Below, find a collection of financial and planning resources for students preparing for college made available by Learn More Indiana. Also included are a handful of repayment options for college graduates now repaying student loans.

Preparing for college

A clear understanding of how much college will cost is a key factor in determining what school to attend. Use the College Cost Calculator to determine how much college will cost you and your family.

Cost is not the only aspect to consider when choosing a school.  Elements like four and six-year graduation rates, average student debt load, and average incoming student test scores  give students and parents a more complete picture.

Assembling the resources to pay for college is a complex task. Understanding the terms of financial aid and the long-term impact they will have post-graduation as well as finding available scholarships are important steps. In addition to federal and private resources, the State of Indiana offers a number of need-based programs, including the Frank O’Bannon Grant Program, the Twenty-First Century Scholarship and the Minority Teacher Scholarship.

Student loan repayment options

A college education is a long-term investment. Many students commit to paying for higher education with student loans which they must repay following graduation.  What many graduates don’t know is there are options available to streamline debt repayment, align monthly payments with your income level and allow graduates working in the public sector to have their loans forgiven.

Loan consolidation

Students making payments on multiple student loans, having difficulty making payments or paying a variable interest rate on student loans may be eligible for loan consolidation.  Reducing your loans to one payment through one lender simplifies the management of student debt.

Income-based repayment plan

The federal government offers an income-based repayment plan that aims to assist graduates with high student loan debt and modest incomes. To be eligible, students must demonstrate a partial financial hardship and must carry either Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans.

Public service loan forgiveness

Graduates who choose to enter the public service field have an additional option when paying down student debt. Following ten years of full-time employment with a federal, state or local government agency or a non-profit organization, qualified borrowers who have made 120 monthly loan payments may have the remainder of their loans forgiven.